Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.
Ikea does lots of things right. It has funky home furnishings at decent prices. It has that mesmerizing cart escalator. It has a nursery for kids. And now it has Manland for men.
That’s right. Now women can drop off their men in Manland so they can have 30 minutes of man-less shopping. Here’s how it works: Upon signing your man into Manland, you receive a beeper that will buzz after 30 minutes, prompting you to return and pick up your guy. Watch the promo from Ikea here:
I like the idea of Manland. A lounge with games and snacks where men can relax while their female counterparts shop—who doesn’t like food and fun? What I don’t like is the sense that these men are being checked into preschool.
For the past century women have pursued equality of the sexes, and rightly so. But many messages in the marketplace today speak highly of women by way of demeaning men. The way Ikea has positioned and promoted Manland is an example of this.
Lest my disdain is seen as an overreaction, let me propose the converse: a major shopping outlet introduces Womanland, a place where the man can drop off his woman for 30 minutes of woman-less shopping while she watches soaps and eats bonbons until his beeper buzzes and he is reminded to return to pick her up. What woman would not find this utterly degrading?
Negative messages abound in the marketplace depicting men as helpless and shallow. Ikea’s Manland is not the greatest offender, by any means. (I believe TV sitcoms to be the worst.) But just as men—and especially Christian men—should be first to stand up and defend the dignity of women, so too should women defend the dignity of men. Christian women should not align with this sort of man-bashing messaging because we know that God’s image is stamped on men and women alike. “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . .’; God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:26–27, NASB).
We uphold God’s image by protecting the dignity of both sexes. This message is contrary to the marketplace today. The way I see it, Jesus’ respectful treatment of women was countercultural in His day just as our respectful treatment of men is countercultural today. Honoring God’s image bearers, both male and female, is another way we can follow the Lord’s lead rather than the way of our culture.